New data from Parks Associates found 43% of U.S. broadband households with pay-TV are likely to switch to an online TV platform in the next 12 months. While the absence of live sports and live performances during the coronavirus pandemic created challenges for online TV, services such as Hulu + Live TV and YouTube TV have been able to push the advantages in pricing, content and platform flexibility to drive subscriber growth.
Disney-owned Hulu with Live TV is now the largest online TV platform, with more than 4 million subscribers.
“Subscriber losses in traditional pay-TV continue, while the online TV category continues to grow, thanks to consumer price sensitivity and preferences for platform flexibility,” senior analyst Paul Erickson said in a statement. “Traditional pay-TV operators have online delivery in their roadmaps, if not already deployed. We expect online TV will continue to grow dramatically, and will gradually become the dominant offering in the pay-TV landscape.”
Parks found that 17% of online TV subs switched from traditional pay-TV within the last twelve months. The factors driving defections include pricing and perceived value, while consumers positively respond to the flexibility of online TV to deliver unique and targeted content packages on a variety of connected entertainment platforms.
Prior to the pandemic’s effects on streaming video consumption, online TV sub growth was waning, with some services posting continued losses. Though COVID-19 has driven growth and in some cases recovery in the category, recent increases in online TV pricing make it uncertain how consumers will respond long term.
“Online TV has substantial opportunity if they can avoid the pitfalls that typically drive pay-TV customer dissatisfaction, such as rising prices and inflexible content and platform options,” Erickson said. “With content prices rising and competition increasing, online TV should remain conscious of consumer price sensitivity while keeping a strict adherence to a consumer-centric experience.”